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 Pub Number  Title  Date
REL 2017266 Puerto Rico school characteristics and student graduation: Implications for research and policy
The purpose of the study is to examine the relationship between Puerto Rico’s high school characteristics and student graduation rates. The study examines graduation rates for all public high schools for students who started grade 10 in 2010/11 (in Puerto Rico high school begins in grade 10) and were expected to graduate at the end of the 2012/13 school year, which were the most recent graduation data available. Using data provided by the Puerto Rico Department of Education as well as publicly available data, this study first examined the correlational relationships between graduation rates and two types of variables: student composition characteristics, which are not amenable to change or intervention but help to improve the description of graduation trends in Puerto Rico (for example, the percentage of students who are living in poverty); and school characteristics, which are amenable to change or intervention by officials (for example, the ratio of students per teacher). Regression analyses were used to estimate the conditional association between various characteristics and on-time graduation in Puerto Rico high schools after controlling for other factors. The percentage of students proficient in Spanish language arts was associated with higher graduation rates, after controlling for other school characteristics both overall and by subgroup (males, females, students below poverty, and special education students). After controlling for other characteristics, the percentage of students proficient in mathematics was not associated with graduation rates. Lower student-to-teacher ratios were associated with higher graduation rates for males, students living in poverty, and special education students, after controlling for other school characteristics. The percentage of highly qualified teachers was associated with lower graduation rates overall and for all subgroups except females, after controlling for other school characteristics. Correlations between each school characteristic and graduation rates are also presented in the report. The findings from this study provide a starting point for stakeholders in Puerto Rico who are interested in addressing the low rates of graduation in their high schools and communities through the use of data-driven decision-making.
REL 2017253 Implementing the extended school day policy in Florida's 300 lowest performing elementary schools
Since 2014, Florida law has required the 300 elementary schools with the lowest reading performance to provide supplemental reading instruction through an extended school day. This study found that in 2014/15, on average, the lowest performing schools were smaller than other elementary schools and served higher proportions of racial/ethnic minority students and students eligible for the federal school lunch program. Schools reported using a variety of strategies to comply with the extended school day policy such as increasing reading instruction time each day, increasing staff, providing professional development for teachers, and providing instruction in the extra hour that differed from instruction during the rest of the day. Increased professional development and curricular and pedagogic changes were identified as indirect benefits of implementation.
REL 2017261 Are two commonly used early warning indicators accurate predictors of dropout for English learner students? Evidence from six districts in Washington state
This study examined the graduation and dropout rates of current and former English learner students compared to those who had never been English learners in six school districts in the south King County area of Washington state. It also looked at the accuracy of the early warning indicators used to predict dropping out--such as attendance, course failures, and suspensions--for different groups of English learner and non-English learner students. The six districts are part of the Road Map Project, an ambitious cradle-to-career initiative that seeks to double the number of students on track to graduate from college or earn a career credential between 2010 and 2020. As part of the initiative, the districts have been using a common set of early warning indicators since 2011. The authors examined up to eight years of data on a total of 9,595 students who entered high school in 2008/09 in one of the six study districts. This report highlights notable differences in graduation and dropout rates among subgroups of English learner students. It also finds that the early warning indicators used by the six districts were poor predictors of dropout for all students, but particularly for newcomer English learner students. This may be evidence of the importance of selecting and validating indicators specific to the population for which they will be used. Given that the accuracy of the Road Map Project indicators varied for subgroups of English learner students, other states and districts may want to examine the accuracy of their own indicators for different student populations. If early warning indicators are weaker for a specific subgroup of English learner students, then teachers, counselors, and others may want to monitor the needs of that group in other ways.
REL 2017257 Postsecondary education expectations and attainment of rural and nonrural students
This study examined rural–nonrural differences in postsecondary educational expectations and the attainment of expectations for grade 10 students attending rural and nonrural high schools in the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest region and how these differences compare with rural–nonrural differences in the rest of the nation. For grade 10 students who indicated that they did not anticipate attaining more than a high school education, the study also examined rural and nonrural students' reasons for not expecting to continue their education past the secondary level. Analyses drew on data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 using descriptive statistics, chi-squared tests of association, and multinomial regression models with students nested in schools. The baseline model included only school locale, an indicator for region, and their interaction as predictors; subsequent models added student predictors, family characteristics, teacher expectations, and school contextual variables. Analyses reveal that rural students in the Midwest had lower educational expectations than their nonrural peers, yet similar levels of educational attainment after taking into account student, family, teacher, and school characteristics. For two-thirds of rural and nonrural students, educational attainment fell short of expectations. Importantly, participation in rigorous coursework, parent aspirations, and teacher expectations were more predictive of educational expectations and attainment than whether students grew up in rural areas in grade 10 in 2002. For grade 10 students who did not expect to go to college, both rural and nonrural students perceived financial barriers as the primary reason. Policymakers and other stakeholders in Midwestern states and the rest of the nation can use the results of this study to inform efforts to improve the educational attainment of rural students.
REL 2017237 Graduation outcomes of students who entered New York City public schools in grade 5 or 6 as English learner students
This study describes high school graduation outcomes for students who entered New York City schools in grade 5 or 6 as English learner students. It uses longitudinal administrative data from New York City public schools to focus on 1,734 students who entered New York City schools and were initially classified as English learner students in grades 5 and 6 in the 2003/04 school year. This study followed these cohorts through their expected years of graduation (2009/10 and 2010/11) to estimate on-time graduation rates and for two additional years (that is, through 2011/12 and 2012/13) to estimate five-year and six-year graduation rates. To determine if the differences in graduation outcomes between the sub-groups of long-term English learner students and short-term English learner students were statistically significant, logistic regression was used. Approximately 64 percent of students in these cohorts graduated from high school on time while an additional 15 percent graduated within six years of entering grade 9, yielding a six-year cohort graduation rate of 79 percent. Students in these cohorts earned a variety of diploma types including the standard Regents diploma (41 percent), the more rigorous Advanced Regents diploma (19 percent), and the less rigorous Local diploma (19 percent). Additional exploratory regression analyses indicated that long-term English learner students had statistically significantly higher probabilities of earning a Local diploma and statistically significantly lower probabilities of earning a Regents diploma or an Advanced Regents diploma than short-term English learner students. The differences in diploma types earned by long-term and short-term English learner students are not explained by differences in their background characteristics. This study has implications for understanding graduation patterns of English learners. Six-year graduation rates may be particularly important to consider when describing the graduation outcomes of students who enter school as English learner students. Policy makers should explore the implications for college readiness of the higher rate of English learner students receiving the less rigorous Local diploma versus a Regents diploma or an Advanced Regents diploma. Future efforts to investigate the extent to which districts and schools are meeting the needs of English learner students need to be careful to track students over time, regardless of whether they have met standards for English proficiency.
REL 2017238 Measuring student progress and teachers' assessment of student knowledge in a competency-based education system
Competency-based education is a system where students must demonstrate mastery of course content to be promoted to the next class or grade, with students allowed to take as much or as little time necessary to achieve a comprehensive understanding of course content, rather than spend a prerequisite number of hours in a class. Students are placed into a class based on their current level of understanding rather than their traditional, age-based grade. This report describes how long students took to complete a competency-based class when they were in a class that was below, at, or above their traditional grade level. The report also examines the relationship between teachers’ judgments of student competency and student performance on a state achievement test. The study found that the majority of students took four academic quarters to complete a class. On average, students who were below grade level took less time to complete their classes than students who were in a class that corresponded to their traditional grade level. Teacher ratings of student competency had a small but positive association with student academic achievement and predicted the state academic proficiency levels of 40 percent of mathematics students and 59 percent of literacy students. As school and district leaders implement or contemplate implementing competency-based education, this report provides information about how a competency-based education system in one district operates.
REL 2017212 How are middle school climate and academic performance related across schools and over time?
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between school climate and academic performance in two different ways: (1) by comparing the academic performance of different schools with different levels of school climate and (2) by examining how changes in a school's climate were associated with changes in its students' academic achievement. To examine how school climate and academic performance are related, this study analyzed grade 7 student data from 2004/05 to 2010/11 from the California Healthy Kids Survey, the California Standardized Testing and Reporting program, and the California Basic Educational Data System for 978 middle schools in California. School climate was measured by a set of student survey questions that assessed students' perceptions about six domains of school climate. Schools with positive school climates were those in which students reported high levels of safety/connectedness, caring relationships with adults, and meaningful student participation, as well as low levels of substance use at school, bullying/discrimination, and student delinquency. Regression models were used to estimate the relationship between student-reported school climate and students' average academic performance across schools. Regression models were also used to estimate how, for a given school, academic performance changes as school climate changes. All models included controls for racial/ethnic composition, percentage of English learners, and percentage of students eligible for free/reduced-price meals. The study found that (1) middle schools with higher levels of positive student-reported school climate exhibited higher levels of academic performance; (2) increases in a school's level of positive student-reported school climate were associated with simultaneous increases in that school's academic achievement; and (3) within-school increases in academic achievement associated with school climate increases were substantially smaller than the academic performance differences across schools with different school climate levels. As positive school climate is continuing to gain more attention as a lever to improve student learning, there is increasing interest in how improvements in school climate are related to improvements in academic performance. Most studies examining the school climate-academic performance relationship compare the academic achievement across schools with different levels of school climate. Although the results of this study found that schools with high levels of positive school climate exhibited substantially higher levels of academic performance than their counterparts with low levels of positive school climate, such differences across schools were not an accurate guide for predicting the magnitude of school-specific gains in academic performance associated with increases in school climate.
REL 2017205 High school graduation rates across English learner student subgroups in Arizona
This study examined observed and predicted four-year high school graduation rates among native English speakers (students who have never been designated as English learners) and four English learner subgroups in Arizona: long-term English learner students; new English learner students; recently proficient former English learner students; and long-term proficient former English learner students. These student subgroups were determined by the amount of time a student spent as a designated English learner student and when a former English learner student was reclassified as fluent English proficient prior to high school.

The observed four-year high school graduation rate was calculated for each student subgroup as the percentage of students in each student subgroup who graduated within four years of entering grade 9. The predicted four-year high school graduation rate was calculated for each student subgroup using logistic regression, and adjusted for student demographic characteristics and prior achievement.

Results show that the largest difference in observed graduation rates, 36.1 percentage points, occurred between never English learner students and long-term English learner students. When comparing students with similar demographic characteristics only, the differences in predicted graduation rates across the student subgroups were about the same as those in observed graduation rates; however, when comparing students with both similar demographic characteristics and similar prior academic achievement, the gaps in graduation rates across the subgroups narrowed to a maximum of 5.5 percentage points. These results suggest that prior academic achievement, rather than demographic characteristics, explained most of the differences in graduation rates across the student subgroups and may have been a key factor driving graduation outcomes. To improve high school graduation rate for all the students, policymakers and educators might consider differentiating programs and practices for the needs of these English learner subgroups and developing programs that focus on promoting students’ academic achievement prior to high school. More research is needed about how to help high school English learners (long-term and new English learner students) to learn both academic English and subject matter content knowledge during high school.
REL 2017185 An examination of the movement of educators within and across three Midwest Region states
The Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest conducted a study on the mobility of teachers and administrators in public schools within and between Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. This study was the first to examine educator mobility within and among these three states using the same methodology across the states. The study used the staffing data for the 2005/06 through 2012/13 school years and data on school-level performance and demographics for the same school years from the three states. REL Midwest analyzed these data to identify mobility rates and mobility patterns over time, both within and across states. The study also examined whether different educator characteristics and the characteristics of the exited schools (that is, the schools educators moved from) were related to the odds that educators continuing their employment would change schools rather than stay employed in the same school. The study found that on average 6.8 percent of educators in Iowa, 9.3 percent in Minnesota, and 8.2 percent in Wisconsin moved to another school within state annually between 2006/07 and 2010/11. Teacher mobility rates were found to vary by subject areas and across regions within states. Less than 0.1 percent of educators in these three states moved to another of the three participating states between 2005/06 and 2011/12. Teachers were more likely to be mobile if they had less teaching experience, were in urban schools, or taught in schools with lower academic performance, fewer students, or more economically disadvantaged students. The relationships between these factors and principal mobility were less consistent.
REL 2017190 Teachers' responses to feedback from evaluators: What feedback characteristics matter?
This study describes teacher's experiences with feedback and identifies factors that may influence teachers' use of feedback by examining teachers' perceptions of feedback provided as part of the district's teacher evaluation system. Using data from Regional Educational Laboratory Central's Examining Evaluator Feedback survey, researchers sought to understand how teachers' responses to feedback are influenced by their perceptions of the characteristics of the feedback. The study also examined teachers' ratings of the importance of various characteristics of feedback in responding to feedback. Findings suggest that a teacher's response to feedback is related to four factors: their perceptions of the usefulness of the feedback, whether the feedback is an accurate portrayal of their performance, the extent to which their evaluator is credible, and the resources to which they have access. Additionally, teacher perceptions of evaluator credibility and feedback usefulness could be more important than perceptions of accuracy and access to resources when teachers determine how to respond to their feedback.
REL 2017187 Advanced course enrollment and performance among English learner students in Washington state
Taking advanced high school courses (for example, honors, Advanced Placement, and dual-credit courses that offer college credits in high school) can help prepare students for postsecondary education and careers. English learner students, however, face unique obstacles to taking advanced courses because they must divide their time between acquiring English proficiency and learning academic content. This descriptive study examines patterns in advanced coursetaking among current and former English learner students and never-English learner students in Washington state. Using state data about students enrolled in Washington public schools between 2009/10 and 2012/13, this study analyzed advanced course enrollment patterns and performance among the groups of students. It finds that where students attend school and their academic preparation account for much of the difference in advanced coursetaking. Specifically, current and former English learner students take 0.5 to 1 fewer advanced courses per school year than their never-English learner peers but enroll in advanced classes at similar rates when they are similarly prepared. The study also found that, compared to never-English learner students, current and former English learner students are 40 to 50 percent less likely to complete algebra I in middle school and students who pass this course in middle school take more than twice as many upper-level math courses as students who pass algebra I in grade 9. Current, former, and never-English learner students earn similar grades in those upper-level math courses. In addition, schools with the lowest percentages of current and former English learner students offer more advanced courses than other schools, even after accounting for school characteristics such as average standardized math and reading test scores. To improve access to advanced courses, schools, districts, and state agencies could consider investigating why current and former English learner students with high grade point averages or state math test scores are not enrolling in advanced courses as often as never-English learner students. They also might address language barriers and restrictive policies that could deter otherwise qualified students from taking advanced courses and expand advanced coursetaking opportunities at schools with high percentages of English learner students.
REL 2017191 The content, predictive power, and potential bias in five widely used teacher observation instruments
This study was designed to inform decisions about the selection and use of five widely-used teacher observation instruments. The purpose was to explore (1) patterns across instruments in the dimensions of instruction that they measure, (2) relationships between teachers' scores in specific dimensions of instruction and their contributions to student achievement growth (value-added), and (3) whether teachers' observation ratings depend on the types of students they are assigned to teach. Researchers analyzed the content of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), Framework for Teaching (FFT), Protocol for Language Arts Teaching Observations (PLATO), Mathematical Quality of Instruction (MQI), and UTeach Observational Protocol (UTOP). The content analysis then informed correlation analyses using data from the Gates Foundation's Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project. Participants were 5,409 4th-9th grade math and English language arts (ELA) teachers from six school districts. Observation ratings were correlated with teachers' value-added scores and with three composition measures: proportions of nonwhite students, low-income students, and low achieving students in the classroom. Results show that eight of ten dimensions of instruction are captured in all five instruments, but instruments differ in the number and types of elements they assess within each dimension. Observation ratings in all dimensions with quantitative data were significantly but modestly correlated with teachers' value-added scores—with classroom management showing the strongest and most consistent correlations. Finally, among teachers who were randomly assigned to groups of students, observation ratings for some instruments were associated with the proportion of nonwhite and lower achieving students in the classroom, more often in ELA classes than in math classes. Findings reflect conceptual consistency across the five instruments, but also differences in the coverage and the specific practices they assess within a given dimension. They also suggest that observation scores for classroom management more strongly and consistently predict teacher contributions to student achievement growth than scores in other dimensions. Finally, the results indicate that the types of students assigned to a teacher can affect observation ratings, particularly in ELA classrooms. When selecting among instruments, states and districts should consider which provide the best coverage of priority dimensions, how much weight to attach to various observation scores in their evaluation of teacher effectiveness, and how they might target resources toward particular classrooms to reduce the likelihood of bias in ratings.
REL 2017177 Academic outcomes for North Carolina Virtual Public School credit recovery students
This report describes the results of a REL Southeast study comparing short- and longer-term student successes after completion of online credit recovery courses compared to student successes after completion of other credit recovery options, such as traditional face-to-face courses and summer school courses. Credit recovery refers to when a student fails a course and then retakes the same course to earn high school credit. This research question was motivated by the growing importance of online learning in traditional public school settings and a desire on the part of many stakeholders to understand better how students are adjusting to that transition. The data for this study covered eleven core high school courses (courses required for graduation) taken between 2008/09 and 2011/12 in North Carolina. The study compares the likelihood of a student: (a) succeeding on the state end-of-course test for the recovered course; (b) succeeding in the next course in a recovered course sequence (for instance, in English II after English I); (c) remaining in school after credit recovery; and (d) graduating and graduating on time. Results suggest that there was little difference between the short-term success rates of students who completed state-supported online credit recovery and students who completed other credit recovery options. However, on measures of longer-term success, students who completed state-provided online credit recovery courses and did not subsequently drop out were more likely than other credit recovery students to graduate on time. Among credit recovery participants in state-provided online courses, Black students were less likely to reach proficiency in their recovered courses but more likely than their peers to succeed in later coursework after their online experience. Because of limitations in the analyses possible with available data, it is not possible to directly attribute these outcomes to participation in online credit recovery, but the results do point toward intriguing and potentially beneficial areas for future, more rigorous study.
REL 2017200 Patterns of English learner student reclassification in New York City public schools
This study was designed to describe patterns in reclassification from English learner to English proficient, how the patterns changed over time as students spent more time in New York City (NYC) schools, and how reclassification patterns differed by specific student characteristics. The study utilized existing administrative data for seven cohorts of students who entered New York City public schools as English learner students between the 2003/04 and 2010/11 school years. The seven cohorts were followed for periods ranging from two to nine years, through the 2011/12 school year. The analytic sample included 229,249 students who were initially classified as English learner students. The first research question used the subset of data for students who entered NYC schools as English learner students in kindergarten, with the goal of comparing the probability of reclassification as it changed over grade levels, through the end of grade 7. The second research question used these data combined with the data on students who entered after kindergarten to facilitate comparisons in time to reclassification between students who entered at different grade levels. To address the three student characteristics of interest (grade of entry, initial English proficiency, and disability status), three separate, parallel models were used to investigate the relationship between time to reclassification and each characteristic individually. In the analyses for both research questions, discrete-time survival analyses were used to estimate the probability of reclassification as it changed over time. Approximately half of the students who entered kindergarten in New York City public schools as English learner students were reclassified within four years (that is, by the end of their expected grade 3 year). English learner students who entered New York City public schools in grade 6 or 7 took a year longer to become reclassified than English learner students who entered in kindergarten.
REL 2017172 English learner students' readiness for academic success: The predictive potential of English language proficiency assessment scores in Arizona and Nevada
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the English language proficiency (ELP) assessment scores of English learner students in Arizona and Nevada and the students' subsequent performance on academic content tests in two key subject areas: English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. This study provided analyses focused on two samples of students: a cohort of students who were in grade 3 (elementary) in 2009/10 and a cohort of students who were in grade 6 (middle school) in 2009/10. In general, the study found that the higher the English learner students' English language proficiency level, the higher were their passing rates on the academic content assessments. In order to have at least a 50-percent probability of passing the academic content assessments in the two years following the ELP assessment, grade 6 English learner students in both Arizona and Nevada needed an ELP scale score that exceeded the threshold for English language proficiency, the minimum level for reclassification as fluent English proficient students and placement full time in mainstream, English-only classes. To have a 50-percent probability of passing the academic content assessments, grade 6 English learner students had to score between 1 and 46 scale score points above the reclassification minimum, depending on the state and academic content test. On the other hand, grade 3 English learner students in Arizona and Nevada did not have to reach the proficiency threshold on the initial ELP assessment in order to have a 50-percent or higher probability of passing the ELA and mathematics content tests in the two years following the assessment. To have a 50-percent probability of passing the academic content assessments, grade 3 English learner students could score between 15 and 46 scale score points below the reclassification minimum, depending on the state and academic content test. The probability of passing the ELA and math content tests when scoring at the minimum level for reclassification for grade 3 English learner students was always higher than for those in grade 6: at least 39 percentage points higher in math and at least 55 percentage points in ELA.
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